We seem to have squandered the solidarity and goodwill amongst ourselves that briefly blossomed after the tragic events of 9/11 — not to mention global support.

A long time ago, I helped produce for public television an annual year’s-end interview with New York City Mayor Ed Koch. We always shot it in a private room at Windows on the World, the restaurant on top of the north tower of the World Trade Center, with a spectacular view toward the Empire State Building.

One time, we were taken up to the roof, where the big transmitting antenna was. Around the perimeter was a gutter, some 2 to 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep or so — for the window cleaning apparatus that went up and down the sides of the building, I think. Some of our production crew got into that well, knelt down, held onto the inner lip of the gutter and had their pictures taken. From a still camera’s perspective, you could make it appear as if you were hanging from the edge of the tower. It seemed funny at the time.

Two decades later, on that awful morning in 2001, I threw on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt and ran to the corner after my then-wife buzzed from downstairs that the World Trade Center was on fire. We stood on the corner looking down Greenwich Street. She left for her newsroom, I watched for a few more minutes, and as I turned to return home, the second plane hit.

For so long after 9/11, we gazed southward and the sky was empty where the original Trade Center once stood. I used to think there should be some vast chalk outline in the sky, showing where the twin towers had been, like the silhouette TV detectives draw of the spot where the murder victim fell.

These days, when I walk across my Manhattan intersection and look down Seventh Avenue, I can see One World Trade Center going up. As you’ve seen during the coverage of this month’s tenth anniversary, they’ve reached 80-plus stories; its glass sheathing rises part of the way to the top, construction lights twinkle at night on the unfinished floors above.

Eventually, the structure will be 108 stories with an illuminated mast that will lift it to a height of, yes, 1,776 feet, but along the way they’ve abandoned the title Freedom Tower for fear of scaring away renters and provoking terrorists. I think of the 10 years that have passed, remember other 9/11 anniversaries and wonder what else has been abandoned as well.

I went down to ground zero on Wednesday, walking through the rain and mist to Church and Vesey streets, the intersection at which One World Trade Center is rising. I stopped by St. Paul’s Chapel, where 10 years ago first responders and other emergency personnel slept, exhausted, in the church’s pews between hours of recovery work on the smoldering mountain of death and debris.

I had come downtown for a discussion at the New York County Lawyer’s Association. Panelists discussed whether the public had been sufficiently involved in the plans for rebuilding lower Manhattan post-9/11 (no), if officials had recklessly downplayed the health hazards around the site (yes), if the mainstream media adequately reported those dangers (no) and whether post-attack security concerns had escalated intolerance and violated civil liberties (oh yes, indeed).

We seem to have squandered the solidarity and goodwill amongst ourselves that briefly blossomed after the tragic events of 9/11 — not to mention global support — just as unthinkingly as we’ve spent $1.2 trillion, according to the National Priorities Project (a nonpartisan, progressive think tank), on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — money that could have generated  thousands of college scholarships; hired fire fighters, police officers and teachers; provided low cost health care for millions.

The renewed patriotism and commitment we felt a decade ago has been sullied by jingoism and paranoia. We actually had a genuine sense of country in those first days and weeks of smoke and ash, those days when the smell of vaporized metal and electrical cable and God knows what else filled our air; so pungent you could taste it.

We lived through those days, and in a decade of memorials we still see flashes of the unity, strength and dedication so necessary for democracy to survive. But how horrible if the ultimate memorial to 9/11 is not waterfalls and names engraved on bronze or marble but the financial, moral and societal bankruptcy Osama bin Laden and 19 followers armed with box cutters hoped would be our fate.

Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos, president of the Writers Guild of America, East, and former senior writer of “Bill Moyers Journal” on PBS.